I'm back from DC. As usual, I had a great time at my General Board of Church and Society meeting. I always enjoy my trips - I usually get to spend time with my college roommate, who lives in Annapolis, and her husband (who lived across the hall from us at OWU), I get to enjoy DC and walk around the city, and enjoy the weather (the leaves are out in DC - not quite there yet in Central New York!), I try to take in a show/performance if I have time free, and I just thoroughly enjoy being involved in the work of GBCS and the social justice advocacy that GBCS engages in.
Worship is always a highlight of these meetings. I enjoy getting to know other board members better, and hearing them preach and watching them lead worship always tells me something more about who they are. Margie Briggs, a lay woman from from the Missouri Annual Conference, preached at our opening worship, and she was just excellent. Preaching on James 2:5-26, she talked about her grandmother's theology, which she called "Mousetrap Theology" - if it affects one of God's children, it affects all of God's children. She talked about learning as a child that "God expects something from me," and the importance of teaching that to our children, to everyone. She also told a story of reading through her grandmother's Bible, and seeing near many challenging passages four letters - JTMH. Everywhere there was a challenging command from Jesus - to love neighbors, to follow, to take up the cross, to remove the plank from the eye, to give up possessions - she would see the letters JTMH. Finally, Margie found the original place her grandmother wrote the phrase in full: "Jesus, Teach Me How." Indeed!
Jim Winkler gave his General Secretary's report - he talked about the focus of his time as General Secretary, which he laid out when he first started, and which is laid out in the Book of Discipline: 1) Connecting GBCS to local churches/communities 2) Joining together justice and mercy 3) Implementing the Social Principles (I have yet to get the full text of his address, so these comments are from my scribbled notes. I'll link to the full address later on. Jim talked about what we treasure in a series of compelling if/then statements - "If we treasure only our own security, then ____" The verse from Matthew about our heart being wherever what we treasure is is one of my favorites. He asked himself/us, "Do we really seek to love our neighbor as we love ourselves?" And he highlighted the four areas of focus (PDF document) that boards/agencies will together seek to emphasize in the UMC: Leadership development, congregational development, ministry with the poor, and global health.
Dr. Mickey Morgan, a district superintendent in the North Alabama Conference, preached on Saturday morning (confession: I missed worship on Friday morning. I'm a delinquent. And a night-owl.) He asked us, "Do we trust Jesus to be right about everything?" He challenged us, saying that we say that we do, but that our actions suggest otherwise. "Our silence is a way we participate in the hatred we see," he said.
Sunday morning I had the pleasure to worship again at Foundry UMC, and to again confirm that Dean Snyder is alive and well. I really enjoyed this service, but I will write more about that in my next post, when I have my bulletin and notes handy... I'll also tell you more about our legislative committees and the work part of our meeting ;)